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California is One Step Closer to Strengthening 21 and Above Tobacco And Vaping Sales Statewide

AB 1639 has been adopted by the Assembly, awaits Senate approval

By Evan Symon, September 5, 2019 6:57 am

Assembly Bill 1639, which would require stricter age verification for purchasers, ramp up sting operations for police to combat under age purchases, heightens penalties for violations, and enact stricter regulations for vaping, has gone to the Senate after being approved by the Assembly. 

AB 1639 was read twice during voting yesterday, as numerous Assemblymembers went up to voice their opinion on the matter. Assemblyman Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), who along with Assemblymen Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), and Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) introduced the bill, had a passionate argument against what the bill is fighting, particularly e-cigarette use.

“With more than three and a half middle school and high school students reporting e-cigarette use last year, teen vaping has truly reached epidemic proportions,” said Assemblyman Gray before the second vote. “There is a 78 percent increase in use among high school students between 2017 and 2018. The rise of e-cigarette use among students has been eroding due to decades of progress against tobacco against kids. The FDA and CDC have begun to take action at the federal level, but in the meantime California must fill that void.”

Other lawmakers joined in, citing the need to restrict tobacco and vaping use. Some health groups, such as the California Medical Association, have voiced approval after changes to the bill.

However, there has also been much opposition to the bill, some of which has come from the health community. Previous versions of the bill had the removal of ‘flavored’ products, most notably by the e-cigarette company Juul. However these were taken out by lawmakers in early July. Specifically, Assemblyman Gray allowed flavored provisions to be removed in favor of focusing on youth purchases of tobacco. Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) said “The bill was hijacked to go into a package of bills. In reality is an industry-sponsored plan that doesn’t help to alleviate the epidemic of youth vaping.” 

A report by the Los Angeles Times has found that Juul has paid $38,000 to two of Assemblyman Gray’s election and ballot measure committees. However, at the same time, Assemblyman Gray has had a long voting record against tobacco and smoking products. This only adds to the complexity on why certain parts of the bill that were harsher to vaping companies were removed.

The political action group Parents Against Vaping also called the bill out on it, and urged lawmakers to vote ‘no’ on the bill. The American Cancer Society, who have been against tobacco and smoking for well over half a century, also urged a no vote, saying “Big Tobacco is using intense lobbying and campaign contributions to lure lawmakers to pass a bill that will do little to curb the current youth e-cigarette epidemic raging in this state.” Other health groups have joined in, saying the bill hasn’t gone far enough, or that it has been too diluted after different forms of the bill removed certain legislation.

AB 1639 was passed 67 to 0 with an urgency clause, meaning that it will go before a much more divided Senate by next week.

Evan Symon

Evan V. Symon is the Senior Editor for the California Globe. Prior to the Globe, he reported for the Pasadena Independent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and was head of the Personal Experiences section at Cracked.
Evan Symon
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One thought on “California is One Step Closer to Strengthening 21 and Above Tobacco And Vaping Sales Statewide

  1. California has some real problems – infrastructure deterioration -roads, water, power, capital flight and the exit of the productive middle classes, illegal immigration and consequent indigent overpopulation, carrying capacity, a homeless population that is mostly – 90% -crazy and/or addicted, growing criminality, etc. – that need to be addressed with some hard and difficult choices required.

    This supposed (non) problem of Vaping and “The Children” isn’t one of them. It’s both just cheap virtue signaling and an excuse for the various and mostly ineffectual State and Local agencies to devote their energies – with additional funding of course – on something other than more consequential matters. Oh, and all to the benefit of the various rent seeking special interests promoting these laws in the name of…well whatever, but you can be sure dollar signs are attached.

    Virtue signaling is easy and requires nothing more than a good press kit. (And a press conference with a cheesy backdrop; look at that photo.) However, taking care of what you already have and fixing/eliminating the real problems before they get worse is hard and requires foresight and competence. Clearly the present Democratic and Leftist State Governments – name calling here, but there you go – are mired in the former and clearly lacking of the latter.

    Unless the current “leadership” changes their tune and/or are voted out of office, the State is headed towards collapse.* And that’s a shame, because it would be all be so easy to fix if anyone had the will.

    Just a thought.

    VicB3

    *One good earthquake would push it over the edge. Take away the water, power and, consequently, the gasoline, and watch the fun (from a distance) as the tribes turn on each other. No Kumbaya here. it will be the L.A. riots writ very, very large

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